On being an introvert

21 07 2015

I hear this all the time too, that I can’t possibly be an introvert because I seem to be outgoing, and I’m opinionated and not inclined to keep those opinions to myself (oh, if they only came with a filter!)

I’m not at all inclined to argue with the “oh you can’t be an introvert” crowd.  Every single personality test I’ve ever taken pins me as an introvert.  (ISFJ, to be exact).

Although I can schmooze at a party, and give talks to roomfuls of people, and laugh and participate in meetings, none of those make me anything else but an introvert.  The key is this: I can do a lot of interactions with people, but I go home exhausted and depleted.  If I haven’t had much alone time, I get really testy.  Just ask my poor, sweet, extroverted husband.  I need to recharge my batteries away from people.

I can be around people just fine if I don’t have to interact with them.  It’s the interactions that are so draining.  And yes, I love being with certain people, I do.  I just have to gird my loins beforehand and make sure to recharge afterwards.

I felt badly about this aspect of myself for years, as it was particularly hard to be a mom and an introvert.  The drive home from work often had to be enough alone time to recharge.  Sometimes I would lock myself in the bathroom for 10 more minutes of alone time.  But any Mom can tell you how well that works.  I am grateful that my kids are adults, although if I say I’m grateful that they aren’t hanging on me any more, it always sounds awful.

But I am grateful for more alone time.  I have to have it. When I go to conference in a few months, I will sneak away and nap in my hotel room by myself.  I will carve out time in the fitness room with headphones on to discourage chatter.

One thing I do now in honor of my mother is I put books on shelves at one of the small local libraries.  I love it—if I don’t have to talk to people, which is most of the time.  My mom was a librarian for much of her life, but had to do a lot of people interaction.  As a volunteer, I don’t have to.  It’s perfect.  I bring order to the world in a small way and i don’t have to talk to people.

So here’s the thing, world.  If I don’t want to talk, I won’t.  I’m not mad or upset.  I just don’t want to talk.  If I don’t go to a party or an outing with a group, all it means is that I need my time  to myself.  I’m not mad at anyone.  You can call me antisocial although it’s not a true label.

I’m an introvert.  I am not going to change.  I can’t change.

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